Exploring the backstage of Victorian respectability

Huggins, Mike (2016) Exploring the backstage of Victorian respectability. Journal of Victorian Culture, 22 (1). pp. 81-88.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/13555502.2016.1262205

Abstract

This paper shares Andersson’s interest in exploring the ‘backstage’ of Victorian civility and respectability. The adroit media manipulation of high-status leading reformers and their associations and societies, with their often overlapping membership, has accorded them an inflated importance as a representation of the Victorian Age, and can distort our understanding. The argument here begins by problematizing the ways some historians have made use of contemporary statistics and terms such as ‘respectability’ or ‘vice’. For the Victorians these carried multiple meanings and cultural resonances, partially dependent on identities of class, gender, generation, Tory or Liberal political orientation, attitude to faith, and ethnicity. This meant that the complex nuances of understanding attached to activities sometimes labelled as unrespectable ‘vices’ such as drinking, sexual transgression and gambling could make them acceptable in a variety of cultural contexts despite the opposition of vociferous anti-‘vice’ groups. The paper concludes with a brief exploration of the potentiality of visual and digital resources for delving deeper into such issues.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Victorian Culture
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 1750-0133
Departments: Humanities
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2017 16:47
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2018 10:48
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/2624

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